Using Windows Explorer View in SharePoint to Find OneNote Notebook Folders

In my “How OneNote Notebook Files (and Folders) Work” blog post, I shared some screenshots to clarify how OneNote uses folders and files to manage the data. I also took a moment to ponder why OneNote Notebooks stored and synced to locations in SharePoint site either on-premise and online in Office 365 appeared to only use files. The folders appeared to be missing. Something was not quite right and I was intent to discover what was going on…


OneNote Notebook stored locally on my computer in C drive:


OneNote Notebook stored in SharePoint in a Site Assets library:






My colleague Colin and I put on our sleuthing hats and went digging for answers. Logically, we started in the Site Contents area of the SharePoint site and discovered that the location where the Notebook was stored (Site Assets) contained 56 items… yet when we went into the Site Assets library, there was only one file (see above).


We considered that perhaps the default Site Assets Library view was configured in some way to not show folders. But creating a blank “Test” view yielded the same results as above. Then Colin came up with the brilliant idea to open the Site Assets Library in Window Explorer view. Check it out:


A folder! And when you drill down, here’s the gold:


In summary, setting up Notebooks in SharePoint does work as expected – it’s just working its magic in the “back end” away from non-technical end user eyes…

6 responses to “Using Windows Explorer View in SharePoint to Find OneNote Notebook Folders

  1. Thanks for the enlightening posts on OneNote files and folders. You answered some of my own questions that arose while consolidating notebooks and moving them all to …OneDriveDocumentsOneNote Notebooks. Now, all but one of my notebooks appear as shortcuts with no visible folder. However, I’m using Office 365 Home which–as far as I know–doesn’t include SharePoint in the cloud. So where are my notebook folders hiding?

    1. You are correct. Office 365 for Home comes with OneDrive, which has nothing to do with SharePoint. The folder structure of the OneNote Notebook is hidden in the back end of OneDrive.
      The only way to prove that it does exist is to open the Notebook in the desktop OneNote program, right click on the notebook, select Properties, select Change Location then move the Notebook file to a location on your device. When you do this you’ll see the folder structure that was hidden by the icon in OneDrive is visible again.

  2. Okay, got it now. Office 365 Business hides OneNote folder structure inside SharePoint whereas Office 365 Home hides them in OneDrive.

    Before I understood OneNote folders, I manually moved a legacy OneNote 2010 notebook to OneDrive. Now the folder sits in …\OneDrive\Documents\OneNote Notebooks\ along with several new OneNote 365 notebook shortcuts. I can see the old notebook in desktop OneNote, but not in OneNote online or mobile.

    I spoke to a couple Office 365 support techs and they have no idea how to upgrade the old notebook…

    1. There is a button to convert an old Notebook to a newer version (and vise versa) hidden in the Notebook Properties menu. If you are able, open your Notebook in OneNote 2013 desktop, then locate your Notebook in your Notebook pane (far left side), and right click on the Notebook to open the Mini Toolbar menu. Select Properties…
      You will find the “Convert to 2010-2013” and “Convert to 2007” buttons there.

      Now, I am unsure why you want to convert a 2010 notebook to 2013, as it would appear that they share the same notebook format. If you can share some more details, I can do some research and see what I find (or failing that, I can ask one of the OneNote Product Team).

      1. Happy New Year. I really appreciate your in-depth research and helpful tips. Fortunately, I finally got that older notebook converted to 2010-2013 format and can now access it from any device or the Web. I did it the hard way: Renamed the old notebook, created a new one with my preferred name, moved all contents to the new one then deleted the old. It would have been nice to try the convert button you discovered. Now that I’m clear on 2010-2013 sharing the same format, I’d say that old notebook must have been a holdover from OneNote 2007.

        Other longtime OneNote users may run into similar issues out there. Conversion support could be a little more robust. One simple enhancement would go a long way: When legacy notebooks are detected, simply pop up a dialog displaying: “The current notebook is in an older OneNote 2007 format. Some features, such as cross-platform and Web access, are not supported. Would you like to convert to 2010-2013 format?” Even just mentioning that conversion button in a prominent place in a Getting Started guide or FAQ would mitigate user frustration that could be hidden out there. In any case, I’ll definitely mention your excellent blog to other OneNote evangelists and users.

  3. Hi Kelly – I don’t know if it’s copacetic to ask about old posts. If it is, can you tell me if there’s a trick to maintaining Notebooks in a file form in SharePoint? I ask because many in my agency keep their cases in a OneNote format. They save those in a permission-protected folder in a SharePoint document library configured for OneNote Notebooks. For some employees, their folders are full of .One files, not Notebooks. Because so many employees are affected, our SharePoint administrator cannot accommodate them. (We have a specific item limit for each document library, so when Notebooks appear as, say, 20 .One files, instead of one Notebook…we burn through our limit WAY too fast!) Do you have any suggestions about how we can save Notebooks in SharePoint as Notebooks…and so cut down the number of items in SharePoint (and make those folders easier to negotiate)? Thanks so much!!

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